100 books like Cræft

By Alexander Langlands,

Here are 100 books that Cræft fans have personally recommended if you like Cræft. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Markus Eberl Author Of War Owl Falling: Innovation, Creativity, and Culture Change in Ancient Maya Society

From my list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, I love prehistoric things and what can I learn from them about the people that made them and left them behind. I study ancient Maya commoners in what is now modern Guatemala. Their material remains are humble but include depictions and symbols normally found in the palaces of Maya kings and queens. First I wondered and then I studied how the title-giving war owl fell into the hands of Maya commoners. By approaching this process as innovation, I discuss creativity in the past and cultural changes that result from it.

Markus' book list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing

Markus Eberl Why did Markus love this book?

This book introduced the concept of nudging into the public discourse, and I guess all of us have encountered it one way or the other. How many reminders have I gotten to sign up for this or that program?… Alas, I love Thaler and Sunstein's concept of choice architects. It made me think about power as a capacity to affect not only people but also the very framework in which people make decisions.

By Cass R. Sunstein, Richard H. Thaler,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Nudge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now available: Nudge: The Final Edition

The original edition of the multimillion-copy New York Times bestseller by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, Richard H. Thaler, and Cass R. Sunstein: a revelatory look at how we make decisions—for fans of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow

Named a Best Book of the Year by TheEconomist and the Financial Times

Every day we make choices—about what to buy or eat, about financial investments or our children’s health and education, even about the causes we champion…


Book cover of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Sergei Guriev Author Of Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century

From my list on why countries succeed and why they fail.

Why am I passionate about this?

What are some countries rich and others are poor? I strongly believe that this is the most important question for modern economics. I've become an economist to understand this. I am happy that in recent decades economists – working closely together with other social scientists – have made so much progress in this field. And this is not abstract knowledge – it is being applied already to help developing countries catch up with the rich world. I have seen it myself when I took a leave from academia to work as a Chief Economist of a development bank (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) – to learn more from and to contribute to this work.

Sergei's book list on why countries succeed and why they fail

Sergei Guriev Why did Sergei love this book?

This is a bestselling book that tackles the most important question in economics: why some countries are rich, and some are poor.

This well-written and convincing book provides a very broad and accessible overview of history of successful and failing societies. It argues that inclusive democratic institutions deliver better economic outcomes than authoritarian ones.

Given that this view is based on recent research in political economy and development economics – including the authors’ own groundbreaking work – this is a must-read for all advocates of liberal democracy who want to have quantitative arguments and historical narratives to stand up to the rise of authoritarianism around the world. 

I teach political economy of development. My job is to explain to the students why some countries are rich and others are poor.

Acemoglu and Robinson is a wonderful and accessible textbook. Students love it – even if they often argue with the…

By Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Why Nations Fail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012.

Why are some nations more prosperous than others? Why Nations Fail sets out to answer this question, with a compelling and elegantly argued new theory: that it is not down to climate, geography or culture, but because of institutions. Drawing on an extraordinary range of contemporary and historical examples, from ancient Rome through the Tudors to modern-day China, leading academics Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson show that to invest and prosper, people need to know that if they work hard, they can make money…


Book cover of The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration

Markus Eberl Author Of War Owl Falling: Innovation, Creativity, and Culture Change in Ancient Maya Society

From my list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, I love prehistoric things and what can I learn from them about the people that made them and left them behind. I study ancient Maya commoners in what is now modern Guatemala. Their material remains are humble but include depictions and symbols normally found in the palaces of Maya kings and queens. First I wondered and then I studied how the title-giving war owl fell into the hands of Maya commoners. By approaching this process as innovation, I discuss creativity in the past and cultural changes that result from it.

Markus' book list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing

Markus Eberl Why did Markus love this book?

Sociological theory poses the fascinating question of how people create society. Giddens' book offers one of the most compelling and lucidly written answers. He discusses individuals as agents and how our decisions have ripple effects – intended or not – that affect others. Social systems and the structures they consist of are constraining and enabling our behaviors. Society is like language and practices like speech: to communicate, we require vocabulary and grammar; at the same time, a language can't survive if nobody speaks it.

By Anthony Giddens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Constitution of Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anthony Giddens has been in the forefront of developments in social theory for the past decade. In "The Constitution of Society" he outlines the distinctive position he has evolved during that period and offers a full statement of a major new perspective in social thought, a synthesis and elaboration of ideas touched on in previous works but described here for the first time in an integrated and comprehensive form. A particular feature is Giddens' concern to connect abstract problems of theory to an interpretation of the nature of empirical method in the social sciences. In presenting his own ideas, Giddens…


Book cover of Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens

Markus Eberl Author Of War Owl Falling: Innovation, Creativity, and Culture Change in Ancient Maya Society

From my list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, I love prehistoric things and what can I learn from them about the people that made them and left them behind. I study ancient Maya commoners in what is now modern Guatemala. Their material remains are humble but include depictions and symbols normally found in the palaces of Maya kings and queens. First I wondered and then I studied how the title-giving war owl fell into the hands of Maya commoners. By approaching this process as innovation, I discuss creativity in the past and cultural changes that result from it.

Markus' book list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing

Markus Eberl Why did Markus love this book?

Prehistoric people outside of Europe are often assumed to be "people without history," as anthropologist Eric Wolf called them. Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube's book is exciting because it uses the recent decipherment of Maya hieroglyphs to reconstruct the lives of dozens of Maya rulers. At least some of the millions of ancient Maya have now names and a history. Their great art and architecture can be linked to artists who made them and to nobles who commissioned them.

By Simon Martin, Nikolai Grube,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Deep in the dense rainforests of Central America lie the turbulent stories of the Maya monarchy, stories brought vividly to life in Chronicles of the Maya Kings and Queens, which is newly available in paperback. Describing many of their own discoveries, two of the world's leading experts in Maya hieroglyphs take the reader into a once-hidden history, setting out the latest thinking on the nature of Maya divine kingship, statehood and political authority, and describing all the most recent readings and archaeological finds. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens combines groundbreaking research with a highly readable history, offering the…


Book cover of The Flight of Icarus: Artisan Autobiography in Early Modern Europe

James R. Farr Author Of Who Was William Hickey? A Crafted Life in Georgian England and Imperial India

From my list on autobiography, memory, identity, and the self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I stumbled upon Hickey’s memoirs and while reading them became captivated not only by the frequently hilarious episodes he recounts from his life, but also by the subject of autobiography and how narrating our life story somehow projects a sense of self and identity to the reader. Trying to grasp this process led me to exploring a wide range of books, and opened up understanding of how our selves are fashioned and what they mean to others. An endlessly fascinating subject.

James' book list on autobiography, memory, identity, and the self

James R. Farr Why did James love this book?

Amelang’s book is one-of-a-kind, a non-fiction study of hundreds of autobiographies by a group of people from whom one would not expect literary productions: common artisans and tradesmen and women. He explores through their writings covering several hundred years how a sense of individuality gradually emerged over time, pointing toward the appearance of the modern self.

By James S. Amelang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flight of Icarus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Exploring autobiographical texts written by European urban craftsmen from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, this wide-ranging book studies memoirs, diaries, family chronicles, travel narratives, and other forms of personal writings from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and England. In the process, it considers the motivations of the authors, the changing forms and emphases of artisan narratives, and, more generally, the significance of written self-expression in early modern popular culture. By analyzing reading and writing as practices laden with social meaning, this work aims to illuminate the changing role of the lower classes and other groups considered marginal in the history…


Book cover of Artisans in Europe, 1300-1914

Henry C. Clark Author Of Compass of Society: Commerce and Absolutism in Old-Regime France

From my list on understanding where “capitalism” came from.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long found it mysterious how we can live in what is truly one interconnected global order. Traders, merchants, deal-makers have long been viewed with suspicion. I wrote Compass of Society to explore how one country, France, with its tradition of land-based elites, could contemplate remaking itself as a “commercial society.” Adam Smith said that even in his time, everyone “becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself... a commercial society.” Revisionists are finding high levels of commercialization even in premodern China and India. In this list, I picked five of my favorite books that reshaped our understanding of where European “capitalism” came from.

Henry's book list on understanding where “capitalism” came from

Henry C. Clark Why did Henry love this book?

Though sometimes described as a “textbook,” this authoritative, lucidly written, and altogether reliable synthesis—covering much of Europe—is actually a fine way to learn about the guild masters who dominated pre-industrial labor. Their paradoxical condition comes through clearly: employers and employees, they were at once seamlessly integrated into the social hierarchy and ruthlessly exclusionary toward outsiders. They touted a timeless, divinely sanctioned order, while also being true wheelers and dealers for their own honor and interests, leading to levels of entrepreneurship and inequality amongst their own ranks that would surprise many.

By James R. Farr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Artisans in Europe, 1300-1914 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a survey of the history of work in general and of European urban artisans in particular, from the late middle ages to the era of industrialization. Unlike traditional histories of work and craftsmen, this book offers a multi-faceted understanding of artisan experience situated in the artisans' culture. It treats economic and institutional topics, but also devotes considerable attention to the changing ideologies of work, the role of government regulation in the world of work, the social history of craftspeople, the artisan in rebellion against the various authorities in his world, and the ceremonial and leisure life of…


Book cover of William Morris: A Life for Our Time

Jan Marsh Author Of The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

From my list on William Morris and his family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a lifelong admiration for William Morris’s eloquent writings on political optimism. And how these fit with the personal life of his wife Janey and daughter May. This began with my biography of the two women, published by the feminist Pandora Press and continuing through to editing Jane Morris’s Collected Letters. Admiration is also critical engagement rather than simple fandom. We need to think, act, and endeavor to promote how we might live better lives in the world. I love the task of relating individual lives in the context of their time. Biography involves historical imagination to fill the gaps in recorded information and conceive how those in the past thought, felt and behaved.   

Jan's book list on William Morris and his family

Jan Marsh Why did Jan love this book?

This is a brilliantly written biography by the late lamented MacCarthy, for whom William Morris was the hero of heroes in regard to both design and political ideals. It’s a book that should never go out of print, indispensable to understanding the people, places, and events that determined Morris’s life, work, and historical influence.

By Fiona MacCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked William Morris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Wolfson History Prize, and described by A.S.Byatt as 'one of the finest biographies ever published', this is Fiona MacCarthy's magisterial biography of William Morris, legendary designer and father of the Victorian Arts and Crafts movement.

'Thrilling, absorbing and majestic.' Independent
'Wonderfully ambitious ... The definitive Morris biography.' Sunday Times
'Delicious and intelligent, full of shining detail and mysteries respected.' Daily Telegraph
'Oh, the careful detail of this marvellous book! . . . A model of scholarly biography'. New Statesman

Since his death in 1896, William Morris has been celebrated as a giant of the Victorian era. But…


Book cover of The Silk House

Deborah Swift Author Of The Poison Keeper: An enthralling historical novel of Renaissance Italy

From my list on historical fiction to immerse you in the old skills of artisans and craftspeople.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historical fiction author but have always enjoyed actually making things as well as writing. In the past, I was a theatre designer, so I was often immersed in recreating antique objects for the stage. Our versions weren’t the real thing–but it meant researching old crafts and then imitating them to build a convincing fake version. My research filled me with great admiration and respect for the real craftsmen of the past–their skill and artistry, and I only have to look at our old cathedrals–so lovingly created, to be inspired all over again.

Deborah's book list on historical fiction to immerse you in the old skills of artisans and craftspeople

Deborah Swift Why did Deborah love this book?

I used to work as a costume designer, so I admit I have a bit of a thing for old textiles. I couldn’t resist this book, which features the silk trade and has a mystery at its heart.

The three women whose fates are linked by the Silk House in a quiet market town are all interesting characters, and their lives are linked together well by the author over the span of the 17th to 21st centuries.

The book contains two of my favourite interests, the historical silk trade and the ancient healing powers of herbal medicine. It also rattles along at a good pace and has a lovely surprise of an ending. 

By Kayte Nunn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Silk House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Making Modern Meals: How Americans Cook Today

David E. Sutton Author Of Bigger Fish to Fry: A Theory of Cooking as Risk, with Greek Examples

From my list on scholarly reads about cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in food, even as young as 3 years old I remember wanting to taste everything, and I found the process of cooking fascinating. But I really got interested in food as a topic for research during my time studying Greek culture for my PhD thesis. People on the island of Kalymnos, where I’ve conducted research for 30 years, made a strong connection between food and memory, but it was a connection that few scholars have written about until recently. So I’ve been excited to participate in a new field reflected by all of these books, and hope you will be as well.

David's book list on scholarly reads about cooking

David E. Sutton Why did David love this book?

This book really debunks many of the myths about how and whether Americans cook today.

I loved the way that the author took us  into the thoughts and practices of contemporary home cooks going about their daily cooking. I also found fascinating the comparison and contrast with those who have taken up artisanal production of sourdough bread and other skilled food products.

By Amy B. Trubek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Modern Meals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Home cooking is crucial to our lives but it is not necessary to our survival. Over the past century, it has become an everyday choice even though it is no longer an everyday chore. By looking closely at the stories and practices of American home cooks-witnessing them in the kitchen and at the table-Amy B. Trubek reveals our episodic but also engaged relationship to making meals. Making Modern Meals explores the state of American cooking across all its varied practices, whether cooking is considered a chore, a craft, or a creative process. Trubek challenges current assumptions about who cooks, who…


Book cover of Scientific Instruments of the 17th and 18th Centuries and Their Makers

Tony Benson Author Of Brass and Glass: Optical Instruments and Their Makers

From my list on the history of scientific instruments.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated with stargazing, bird-watching, photography, and microscopy, and consequently vintage telescopes, binoculars, cameras, microscopes, and optical and scientific instruments in general. I began my career in an optics laboratory at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, and went on to become a Chartered Engineer. After a successful career in science and engineering, spanning more than three decades, I left the corporate world to make stringed instruments and write fiction and non-fiction. Brass and Glass: Optical Instruments and Their Makers is my first non-fiction book. My novels include An Accident of Birth, and Galactic Alliance: Betrayal. I live in Kent, England with my wife, Margo, and our cat.

Tony's book list on the history of scientific instruments

Tony Benson Why did Tony love this book?

This comprehensive account traces the instrument makers, the instruments, and the social and scientific factors that resulted in the burgeoning European scientific instrument trade during the 17th and 18th centuries. Huge scientific advances were made during this period, and these would not have been possible without corresponding advances in the capabilities and accuracy of the available scientific instruments, and the development of new types of instruments. M. Daumas describes the scientific challenges faced by scholars, practical astronomers, surveyors, navigators, and others, and the close collaboration between them and the artisans who developed and produced the required instruments. Translated from the French by the science historian Dr. Mary Holbrook, this is a fascinating, and highly informative book.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Europe, materialism, and presidential biography?

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